Senate debates

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

Ministerial Statements

West Java: Earthquake, Solomon Islands: Earthquake

3:03 pm

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

I seek leave to make a short statement in relation to the earthquake in West Java and an earthquake in Solomon Islands.

Leave granted.

I thank the Senate and I thank my colleague Senator Birmingham for permitting us to do this. Can I start by saying the Australian government extends its deepest condolences to our neighbours in Indonesia following this morning's magnitude 5.6 earthquake in West Java. It is clear there has been substantial loss of life and property, and the thoughts of all of us are with those killed and injured and their loved ones. I have been in touch this morning with my Indonesian counterpart, Ibu Retno, and Australia stands ready to assist our Indonesian friends at this time. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is not currently aware of any Australians impacted.

In the past two hours we have also been informed of the magnitude 7 on the Richter scale earthquake off the coast of the Solomon Islands. The situation is unfolding. I am advised that all Australian government personnel are safe and accounted for. DFAT is seeking to confirm the safety of other Australians and their families in the Solomons.

There has been some minor damage to an annex building of Australia's high commission. Staff were also moved to higher ground in response to the tsunami warning that was issued. I am informed that the warning has now passed and that the high commission remains operational. I thank all those at the post for their work.

An Australian member of the Solomon Islands Assistance Force has been deployed to the National Disaster Management Office to assist in coordination. We are a steadfast friend and partner to Solomon Islands and we stand ready to support the Solomon Islands government's response, and I've expressed that to Minister Manele.

Anyone with concerns for any Australians in either West Java or Solomon Islands can contact the Consular Emergency Centre on 1300555135 from in Australia or on +61262613305 from outside Australia.

3:05 pm

Photo of Simon BirminghamSimon Birmingham (SA, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—Human tragedies and natural disasters remind us all that we live amongst a community of nations that is underpinned ultimately by a common sense of humanity. Within our region, the nations who we count as friends and partners are the ones we stand with during such times of difficulty.

We are aware that at least 162 individuals have lost their lives in the town of Cianjur, West Java in Indonesia, following the earthquake there. Many others are injured and missing. Families of course are torn apart, devastated and shattered. The community is facing huge disruption and an enormous rebuild. As Senator Wong has indicated—and I thank her for foreshadowing these remarks—more recently there was an earthquake in the Solomon Islands. The situation is still unfolding, but again the community is facing uncertainty, including from the potential threat of a tsunami.

These are all difficult times for the communities involved. The opposition join the government in expressing our condolences to those who have lost loved ones and offer our full support to Indonesia and the Solomon Islands as they deal with these difficulties. We extend also our support to the DFAT officers and consular staff who will be working with people during these difficult times and also to the relief teams, who no doubt have work to come. We extend full bipartisanship in terms of any response that the government provides in support for Indonesia or the Solomon Islands.

3:07 pm

Photo of Larissa WatersLarissa Waters (Queensland, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—On behalf of the Australian Greens I extend our sympathies to those in West Java and let the folk of the Solomons know that we are thinking of them. In difficult times like these, Australia rises to the challenge. I hope our government will very soon see some Australians out there to help. Again, we are thinking of those in our regions suffering right now.